"We played it safe last Fall," Koi Suwannagate admitted today at her installation in Chelsea. Not so this season.
Love was in the air: "Everything in the collection has a more romantic vibe," the designer said. Her creative starting point was a Thai romance novel—and the whole venture was, actually, a valentine to Suwannagate's home country, which sponsored the show. Textiles were supplied by the Queen's Foundation, an organization based in Bangkok that supports the production of local handicrafts. Her countrymen collaborated on accessories (the jewelry by Prinn was especially notable)…and all of this was in addition to the designer's usual work with cashmere and recycled materials.
Perhaps, then, it's no wonder there was a somewhat cacophonous feel to the collection. Individual pieces were breathtaking: an embroidered and cut-out cashmere cardigan, in particular, and weblike hand-crocheted leggings that took two months to produce (yes, two months). Hand appliqués were everywhere; among the best—because they were the most modern and citified—were those that spelled out, in Thai, "the Love of Koi Suwannagate." The urban edge of last season was, unfortunately, almost entirely abandoned, and in its place were lots of signature flowers, as well as, oddly, deconstruction (as seen on an organza blazer and a dress with exposed shoulder pads). The designer explained that she was using deconstruction as a way to play with looser shapes, but it struck a flat note and added to the discord of her Spring serenade.